Featured Trips

American Institute  for Avalanche Research and Education


Level 1 Course

The First Light Mountain Guide's AIARE 1 is a 3 day/24 hour introduction to decision-making in avalanche terrain. It is designed to give students all the basic tools to travel in avalanche terrain, trip planning, and decision making regarding stability and hazard.

The Chamonix-based AIARE 1 course is specifically tailored to the needs of skiing in the Alps, with an emphasis on decision making in both the downhill and uphill modes of travel, and gathering relevant weather and snowpack data from local resources.

Strategies and decision-making frameworks for all snowpack geographies will be presented and discussed to prepare students for avalanche terrain travel in any region of the world.

Students can expect to develop a good grounding in how to prepare for and carry out a trip, to understand basic decision making while in the field, and to learn rescue techniques required to find and dig up a single buried person.

At the end of the AIARE 1 course the student should be able to:

  • Plan and prepare for travel in avalanche terrain.
  • Recognize avalanche terrain.
  • Describe a basic framework for making decisions in avalanche terrain.
  • Learn and apply effective companion rescue.

Instructional sessions

1. Introduction to the Avalanche Phenomena

  • Types and characteristics of avalanches
  • Avalanche motion
  • Size classification
  • The mountain snowpack: an introduction to metamorphism and layering

2. Observations and Information Gathering

  • Field observation techniques
  • Snowpack tests: rutschblock, compression test
  • Avalanche danger factors or “Red Flags”
  • Observation checklist
  • Avalanche danger scale

3. Trip Planning and Preparation

  • Avalanche terrain recognition, assessment, and selection
  • Route finding and travel techniques
  • Decision making and Human Factors

4. Companion Rescue and Equipment


Cost: 300 euros

Inclusions: Instructor fees, classroom space, course materials, beacon/shovel/probe

Exclusions: Personal skiing/boarding equipment, lift passes.

Requirements: All course members need to have some experience ski or snowboard touring, and downhill ability of Red runs. Tours will be short, with an emphasis on learning, therefore a high level of fitness is not required. Snowshoes are okay for snowboarders if no splitboard is available. Uphill gear necessary at least one day of the course. We will utilize lifts on at least 2 days of the course to access relevant classroom locations and tours.